Greta told me once that she could never figure out where I went or what I was doing. She thought it odd that I didn’t want to socialize with my coworkers. She didn’t know that I was trying to be ‘invisible.’ If I avoided making friends or getting close to someone, I could avoid being hurt. Oh, the irony.
I called Alex in the afternoon at work to remind him that I was having dinner with Greta that night. There were quiet pauses in our conversations by this point, strains of uncomfortableness, lacking the words to fill the silence. It wasn’t so easy to talk as we used to. Too much pain, hurt, and resentment filled the void. I gently hung up the phone and sighed deep, trying to ease the tightness in my chest. I expected after five years that things would be different. That we would have children running around. That we would love each other even deeper than when we started. That our goals and dreams we thought we shared would soar. Yet, it was all crashing down and I didn’t know how to stop it.
Greta and I went to Applebee’s for the fateful lunch, as I like to think of it now. I often wonder where I’d be now if it wasn’t for that lunch.
“Kat, you need to talk. You need to get it out. I can see it in your eyes.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”
“Don’t give me that. I’m a counselor. I know pain when I see it. You never talk to anyone unless you have to. You avoid us all in the office. You just had a miscarriage and you haven’t said a word about it. You didn’t take time off. You haven’t shown any emotion at all! There’s no life in you. I’m really worried about you.”
“Really? You really see all that in me? I thought I hid it so well.”
And then the floodgates flew open. I poured out my heart and soul to Greta, someone I barely knew, but who could see past the steel wall in my eyes to the drowning pain beneath. It was in that moment that I began to be saved. Maybe that seems a bit melodramatic, but it truly felt as though someone had offered me a rope to climb out of a despairing pit. I told her of my failing marriage, how we argued all the time from the little things to the big things. I told her about my dwindling self-esteem, my lack of interest in sex, my anger and resentment toward Alex for treating me as though I was just an object. I complained of our money troubles and how Alex would rather talk with his father and gain his opinion instead of discussing it with me. In a broken voice, I shared about my desire to have children, that we had been trying for two years, started going to an infertility doctor, only to have a miscarriage and how I went alone to the doctor.
Alex and I bitterly argued the next several days about having children after the miscarriage. He demanded that I go back on birth control as though that would fix everything. He didn’t think it was the right time for us to have kids, we couldn’t afford them, that he had enough and wanted to stop trying. He blamed it all on me – that I was the one who pursued trying to get pregnant. He accused me of not telling him that I had stopped the birth control, even though we did have a conversation about it. I became the one with the problem. I was the one who failed at getting pregnant. I was the one who wanted to have a child to begin with and never took his feelings into consideration.
As the damning words piled on, my back bent under their weight. Yet, I stayed silent, bearing witness to his pain and anger. I was ashamed. I knew he was hurting, too, but neither of us knew how to reach out to the other. We were lost in our own worlds.
At that moment, we began to separate. Physically and emotionally. It was easier to distance ourselves from each other than it was to work through the anger, the hurt, the loss. It scared me. Instead, we struggled to bear our happy-go-lucky facades that we were known for. People didn’t press, didn’t push, didn’t ask, so it was easy to bury it. I told Greta that was when I realized Alex and I were broken, and I didn’t know how to fix us. My white picket fence dream was being destroyed slat by slat, nail by nail, until there would be nothing left but splintered wood forgotten on the ground.